Comprehensive quantification of the spastic catch in children with cerebral palsy
In clinical settings, the spastic catch is judged subjectively. This study assessed the psychometric properties of objective parameters that define and quantify the severity of the spastic catch in children with cerebral palsy (CP). A convenience sample of children with spastic CP (N = 46; age range: 4–16 years) underwent objective spasticity assessments. High velocity, passive stretches were applied to the gastrocnemius (GAS) and medial hamstrings (MEH). Muscle activity was measured with surface electromyography (sEMG), joint angle characteristics using inertial sensors and reactive torque using a force sensor. To test reliability, a group of 12 children were retested after an average of 13 ± 9 days. The angle of spastic catch (AOC) was estimated by three biomechanical definitions: joint angle at (1) maximum angular deceleration; (2) maximum change in torque; and (3) minimum power. Each definition was checked for reliability and validity. Construct and clinical validity were evaluated by correlating each AOC definition to the averaged root mean square envelope of EMG (RMS-EMG) and the Modified Tardieu Scale (MTS). Severity categories were created based on selected parameters to establish face validity. All definitions showed moderate to high reliability. Significant correlations were found between AOC3 and the MTS of both muscles and the RMS-EMG of the MEH, though coefficients were only weak. AOC3 further distinguished between mild, moderate and severe catches. Objective parameters can define and quantify the severity of the spastic catch in children with CP. However, a comprehensive understanding requires the integration of both biomechanical and RMS-EMG data. âº The spastic catch can be objectively established based on integrated signals. âº Parameters that define the angle and severity of the catch are reliable. âº A valid definition of the angle of the spastic catch is derived from minimum power. âº Electromyography is needed to comprehensively assess severity of the spastic catch.